What a tragically familiar groundhog day scenario this American withdrawl from Afghanistan is. The whole Operation Enduring Freedom thing has concluded very abruptly in the end. A mad scramble to get out as rapidly as humanly possible leaving behind thousands of military vehicles, a whole lot of miscellaneous equipment and plenty of garbage. Literally, tons of rubbish. Which seems awfully like a very unpleasant, distasteful and cynical metaphor for the whole thing.
Twenty years ago George W. Bush approved, demanded and endorsed the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan with the stated primary goal of finding Osama Bin Laden and destroying al-Qaeda. This then transitioned into a sustained war on the Taliban – the dominant Fundamentalist Militant Islamic political organisation ruling Afghanistan with a brutally repressive regime.
The operations of the US Military in Afghanistan has reportedly cost the American taxpayer over two trillion dollars. That is absolutely mind blowing. But given that this has been the longest modern war in history, that probably shouldn’t be all that surprising. At its peak, 140,000 coalition personnel were on the ground in Afghanistan.
Imagine what pouring 2.261 trillion dollars in infrastructure development and combating famine and disease in Africa could achieve. Or even, poverty in America.
Instead all that money spent on an egotistical ‘let’s find Osama hunt’ that turned into a ‘we’re going to fix Afghanistan’ mission. Not to mention, well over a hundred thousand people killed in the process.
If you agree with that perspective, it all came down to vengeance – that’s essentially what the whole thing boils down to. People will try to dress it up as something else but it was a revenge mission to flush out one man, which eventually succeeded, and in the process it required a massive multi-national military occupation of an extremely poor, extremely messed up country.
And then the Western military forces stayed on a lot longer than planned, to try destroy al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Or, was that a very long token gesture effort to introduce democracy and civil rights and raise the standard of living? Even though, history has shown us – that never works (via military occupation).
Has al-Qaeda been destroyed? Ostensibly, yes. As far as we can tell from our armchairs very far away.
Or has that terrorist organisation just re-branded and slunk away very much into the shadows? Is it even possible to destroy a nebulous, shadowy, terrorist organisation like al-Qaeda?
Field of battle experiment
Putting vengeance to one side, an even bleaker perspective on the mentality behind the Afghanistan occupation is that this has been a ‘field of battle’ experiment. One of two, the other still ongoing (but almost over) in Iraq.
The Western superpower antagonises a fundamentalist Arab country via invasion. This brings about an inevitable insurgent para-military anti-occupation resistance campaign and potentially, attracts and concentrates a lot of the psychotically angry fundamentalist terrorists in the region, and the Middle-East, and Northern Africa.
In theory, all these psychotically angry aspiring terrorists decide they want to be involved and they then join hands with the Taliban and join the fighting in Afghanistan. The Western superpower welcomes this and tries to destroy all their para-military capability over a period of time – basically, a plan to concentrate as many terrorists in one country as possible and then wipe them out.
These fundamentalist terrorist networks will learn a lesson and cease this behaviour in the future, right?
No. I really don’t think so.
They will just rapidly take back full control of Afghanistan with a short, sharp, brutal and disgusting all-Afghan civil war (it’s happening) and start planning further atrocities against anyone they hate, both in Afghanistan, in the region, the Middle East and in Western countries.
2.261 trillion dollars ‘well spent…’ So much achieved.
If anything, anti-Western sentiment in Afghanistan will soon be much worse than it was 20+ years ago. History repeats. Over and over and over and over…